23 May 2022

First Home Buyers: Increased Support

Changes announced to first home buyer schemes.

The Government recently announced changes to their first home buyer schemes to enable more Kiwi’s to access support when buying their first home. These changes relate to the First Home Grant, First Home Loan, and the Kāinga Whenua Loan scheme.

First Home Grant

A First Home Grant (“Grant”) provides eligible first home buyers with support for their deposit – up to $5,000 for an existing home and up to $10,000 for a new home. The Grant helps buyers purchase homes up to the value of the price cap in their region, but the soaring increase in house prices has meant that many Kiwis wishing to buy their first home are facing a limited market with few options for homes that fall within their regional cap.  

The Government has increased the house price cap in most regions throughout New Zealand, some have increased by over $200,000. A full table of these changes can be found under the First Home Grant Table.  In the Christchurch, Selwyn, and Waimakariri districts, the Grant is available to eligible buyers looking to buy existing houses up to a purchase price of $550,000 and new builds up to $750,000.

The KiwiSaver eligibility requirements have also been adjusted to reduce the amount of regular savings required to access the Grant.

The Grant is now available to a wider pool of potential buyers. Members of eligible Progressive Home Ownership rent-to-buy-schemes can now access the Grant for new builds. The popularity of relocatable homes has surged in recent years, buyers can now also qualify for a Grant for a relocatable home that meets the new build house cap requirements and has received a Code Compliance Certificate within the past 12 months.  

The changes to the First Home Grant have taken effect from 19 May 2022.

First Home Loan

The First Home Loan is a product provided by Kainga Ora to certain eligible buyers to make it easier to obtain finance by lowering the deposit required from the usual 10-20% of the purchase price to 5%. The Government will remove house price caps entirely for First Home Loans for greater accessibility and options for eligible first home buyers.

The changes to the First Home Loan are expected to take effect from 1 June 2022.

Kāinga Whenua Loan Scheme

The Government has also announced a change to their Kāinga Whenua Loan criteria. This scheme provides both Māori land trusts, and individuals with a right to occupy their multiple-owned Māori land an opportunity to get lending where traditional bank finance wouldn’t be available. The Kāinga Whenua Loan cap will be increased from $200,000 to $500,000 to provide more options and opportunities for people building, relocating, or purchasing a home on Māori land. A 15% deposit of every dollar borrowed over $200,000 will be required.

Other Changes

The Government has also introduced changes to the eligibility criteria for both the Grants and the First Home Loan and Kāinga Whenua Loan . The eligibility requirements include a new income cap category for an individual buyers with dependents, with an income cap of $150,000. This enables individual buyers who have dependents but who earn over the previous $95,000 yearly cap to access both the First Home Grant and the Loans.

The house price and income caps will now be reviewed every 6 months to ensure they reflect the current market.

For further information see the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development website or use the Kāinga Ora interactive First Home Decision Tool to see which first home buyer schemes you may be eligible for.

The Saunders Robinson Brown property team have considerable experience working with first home buyers and are happy to assist you with purchasing your first home. Please contact us if you would like our assistance.


The above information is of a general nature only. The information in this article does in no way constitute legal advice and all readers should contact a law firm for advice relating to their specific circumstances.

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